ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, AGASTHIYARPATTI
During 1993 the Christians residing at Gopalnagar and Ponnagar areas of Agasthiarpatti had to travel all the way to Mela Sivanthipuram or Vikramasingapuram for worship. It was very difficult to travel with family for 4 to 5 Kms especially during Festival Seasons. The advent of church formation at Agasthiarpatti emerged as Bro. Selwyn Joel residing there was inspired by God to offer his residence for conducting worship service as a forerunner. This thought was shared with Bro. Swamidhas and Bro. Rajaiah of Ponnagar village. This thought was further strengthened with encouragement received from other volunteers Bros. Anthonibabu, Sugumar, Paulraj, S.Kovil and Sellappan who joined the team. As a Divine blessing Bro. Joshua, owner of Oxford English School, came forward to offer his school premises for worshiping on Sundays. Few elders approached Rev. ARGST. Barnabbas, Presbyter of V.K Puram Pastorate and got his acceptance to conduct worship service. Mr. T. Christopher Solomon was appointed as the first Catechist.
The inauguration of the church service was led by Chairman of the West Council Rev. P. Devadasan who delivered the first Sermon of Blessing chosen from Genesis 12 : 22 and prayed. Due exhortation was given by Pastorate Chairman Rev. A.R. G.S.T. Barnabbas for the physical and financial growth of the church. The first Local Church Committee was constituted and among them following persons were chosen:
- Devadasan – Secretary
- Swamidoss – Joint Secretary
- Rajaiah – Treasurer
- U. Arulselvaraj – Auditor
- Sukumar Paulraj – Auditor
In their first meeting of the LCF on 04.07.1993 held soon after the Sunday Worship it was decided to name the New Church as St. John’s Church. On 28.11.1993 Mr. R. Joseph was appointed as the part time Sexton. The Church Committee decided to locate at least 20 cents of land for Church construction. But God opened the heart of Mr. Thangavasanam who offered to sell 67 cents of his land located in between Agasthiarpatti and Ponnanager. Later God offered to buy another 20 cents of land annexed to it from a good friend. The first building for worship was of 30×20 thatched shed with sand flooring. Later it was extended to house 20×40 Asbestos roofing with cemented flooring. At this stage on 20.11.1993 the foundation stone for 80×40 church building was laid by Bishop Rt. Rev. Jason Dharmaraj. Great encouragement was received from Rev. S. Manikkam, Pastorate Chairman of V.K.Puram pastorate for construction of this church. All the members of the congregation showered flowers on the land and prayed earnestly for earlier construction of the church building.
Initially there was a delay in getting approval from the District Collector for the church building. With the intervention of Mr. Charles of Thirukkadamai the approval was sanctioned. The preliminary church was constructed by collecting Sand and bricks transported by a lorry freely serviced by Mr. S. M. Paulraj, son of Mr. Thangadurai and many church members volunteered to physically involve in the construction, which was a memorable sight to watch. It reminded us of the work executed by the remnant in Israel who constructed the walls of the Lord’s temple under the leadership of Nehemiah. In the same way the zeal shown by the church members along with their family while construction of the final church tower, by toiling day and night despite heavy rains also is worthy to be recorded here.
Following avenues were trod by the church committee for mobilizing funds for the church building :
- 3 Lakhs of loan from ECLOF was mobilized and was redeemed in full.
- Collection from well wishers residing in various pastorates of Tuticorin, Nazereth and Coimbatore areas.
- Money Order Scheme was introduced to corner donations from relatives and family members of the congregation to the tune of more than Rs. 1 Lakh
- Collection was augmented by introducing some incentive gifts among donors.
- Masilamony encouraged the church members to offer possessions which brought gold ornaments into the kitty which was auctioned for a huge sum and that was sufficient to lay mosaic flooring for the church hall and granite flooring for the Altar area.
The new church building was completed and was dedicated for God’s Glory by Bishop Rt. Rev. Jayapaul David on 27th March 2003.
Since the inception of the church till 1991 M/s Christopher Solomon Vedhamani, Samuel, Gandhi, D. David were subsequently took the responsibility as Catechists. Our Lord who respects the small beginning of the church with nine members has grown into a church with 105 families as communicants. Let us praise God for such countless blessings.